On the evening Arsenal FC may not have done too well against table topping Chelsea FC but in Lagos the tables turned as the creme de la creme were introduced to what Chairman, MTN Nigeria, Paschal Dozie called ‘a relationship that has come to stay’.
It was the formal launch of the partnership between one of the greatest club sides in world football, Arsenal FC and MTN Nigeria, the nation’s largest Telecom’s service provider last Saturday.
It was not an event for usual suspects but there was Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Chelsea Great, Celestine Babayaro and who else but arguably Africa’s most decorated footballer alongside Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Nwankwo Kanu. He was there with his younger sibling, Ogbonna, and what an evening it turned to be.
From Corporate Nigeria, Chief Executive officer of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, Oscar Onyeama led a pack that included MD Metropolitan Motors, Olutoyin Okeowo, Beat FM boss, Chris Ubosi, Lagos socialite, Gabby Yadua not to mention MTN directors, Tunde Folawiyo and Gbenga Oyebode.
Both sides presented heavyweights at the occasion held at the highbrow IMAX cinema in Lekki Phase 1.
MTN had Chief Operating Officer, Muhammad Ziaullah Siddiqui in attendance alongside GM, Marketing, Richard Iweanoge, while the Gunners team was led by its Chief of Head Partner Services., Gordon Tannock.
Tannock was to set the ball rolling by assuring Nigerians that the deal is a win-win situation for coaches, subscribers and the generality of Nigerians.
Coaching clinics, that may even bring legendary Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger to Nigeria, exclusive assess to players of Arsenal for subscribers, trips to watch top EPL games are already in the pipeline.
Tannock reiterated Arsenal desire to partner with MTN and indeed Nigerian football for greater heights.
MTN Nigeria Chairman, Paschal Dozie, said the deal was totally aimed at Nigerian football and it’s huge fan base with Arsenal. “We shall ensure that this partnership benefits not only our subscribers but most importantly footballers as Arsenal has already set in place necessary mechanism to churn out talents from the Nigerian football system”. The deal he said will replace stars of the likes of Nwankwo Kanu, Alex Iwobi, Chuba Akpom in the Gunners. “You can see what the little lad Chinedu Nwakali is already doing with Arsenal, that’s part of the benefits that Nigerians will see soon with this partnership.
Iweanoge on his part said the mere fact that top Arsenal officials were in the country to concretise the deal is a sign of the best things that are coming in the way of Nigerian football.
Kanu in his usual jovial self, said he wished he was on the pitch once again to embarrass Chelsea, as he did in the heroic 3-2 comeback win against their London rivals to which Babayaro, who also featured in the said game countered that all that was in the past.
Subscribers were advised to visit MTN site to avail themselves of the huge benefits that the deal has for them both locally and internationally.